EDCI 506 Recent Issues in Education Week #7

Supreme Court Case on Affirmative Action at Universities

One article that I read was published in the New York Times and is titled Race and College Admissions, Facing a New Test by Jusitces (Liptak, 2012).  This article is about a young woman named Abigail Fisher and her rejection to the University of Texas at Austin back in 2008.  Abigail claims that her rejection to the university was solely based on race; she was not admitted because the university wants to promote diversity (Liptak, 2012).  The University of Texas at Austin has a system set up called the Top Ten Program, where they automatically admit approximately the top 10% of students at every high school in the state.  Mrs. Fisher barely missed the cutoff (Liptak, 2012).  Mrs. Fisher, the plaintiff, is arguing that she lost out on a state benefit that was given for reasons other than merit, but instead on race and diversity grounds (Liptak, 2012).  The UT at Austin, the defendants, are arguing that the admissions office takes a holistic approach when examining the student and the school’s population in general, and that they should be allowed to “assemble a varied student body as part of its academic and societal mission” (Liptak, 2012).  The Supreme Court is going to hear the case on Wednesday October 9, 2012.

This case may be in violation of the 14th amendment as discussed in our textbook.  Within the 14th amendment, there are two different clauses, the due process clause and the equal protection clause; this case would fall under the equal protection clause (Levine, Ornstein, & Gutek, 2011).  The 14th amendment states, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (14th Amendment).  I think this case may be in violation of the 14th amendment because it is not providing equal protection under state laws.  The Top Ten Program is a program allowed by the state law, which permits for automatic admission for the top 10%, but after that the university has a choice as to who they want to admit, which in their case is sometimes based on race.  The article did however mention a similar court case to which I am sure the Supreme Court will reference, and that case is called Grutter vs. Bollinger which was held in 2003 (Liptak, 2012).  In this case, the Supreme Court “rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review” (Liptak, 2012).  The Supreme Court may come to a similar conclusion as to the Grutter vs. Bollinger case, we will see.

Another article that I read responded to the first hearing of the Supreme Court Case previously mentioned.  This article was published in the Free Lance Star on Thursday October 11, 2012, was written by Michael Doyle, and is titled Supreme Court Takes on Affirmative-Action Case.  The article discusses how predictions are being made that this particular case will come down to a “single swing vote,” most likely from Justice Anthony Kennedy (Doyle, 2012).  He is the one Supreme Court Justice that “straddled positions on the issue and who raised questions for both sides” (Doyle, 2012).  The article also discussed the background of Fisher, the girl who was denied acceptance to the University of Texas at Ausin, and also reviewed the opinions of both the plaintiff and the defendants.  The article did however conclude by mentioning the 14th amendment.  The article commented on how under the 14th amendment states are to grant “the equal protection of the laws and to all people” (Doyle, 2012).  This reinforced my own ideas about what violations were occurring, and it also helped bring the textbook into consideration (Doyle, 2012; Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).

Here is another article about the NEA’s opinion on the case.  They are supporters of affirmative action and helped protest for the cause outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.  Interesting article if you want more information from NEA’s perspective.


One last anecdotal comment related to this case.  In one of my other classes I was discussing this case with another student who attended UVA as an undergraduate.  He said that one of his best friends in college was African American and always had the opinion of himself that the only reason why he got into UVA was because of his race.  It saddened my heart to hear that and to think of the situation from that perspective.  I would be interested in hearing other opinions in response to that brief story.

Technology in the Schools

Another article that I read was published by NPR on October 3, 2012, and is titled Some Schools Actually Want their Students to Play with their Smartphones in Class (Evans-Brown, 2012).  This article focused on a middle school in Durham New Hampshire, where the students are allowed and encouraged to bring their own touch-screen devices in class (Evans-Brown, 2012).  One teacher, Mr. Montgomery, stated that kids these days learn on their smart devices because that is how they look up information, if they are denied access than they are not making use of their number one source of information (Evans-Brown, 2012).  There have been many concerns raised as to whether smart devices are a good addition to the classroom.  Some of the concerns include equity among students, distractibility of students, and inappropriate use of technology in the classroom.  The middle school in New Hampshire has additional touch-screen devices for students who do not have their own, and also their teachers provide engaging specific tasks so that the students are not abusing the privilege (Evans-Brown, 2012).  They claim it has worked for them and has increased technology usage in the classroom without the high costs of having to buy devices for every student (Evans-Brown, 2012).

This article relates really well with the technology legal aspects of the chapter.  Some professionals have been sued for issues involving technology.  For example, a substitute was “convicted of allowing students to view pornography despite her plea that their computer was infected with malware that caused recycling pop-ups she was unable to stop” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 280).  If students are allowed to use their own devices that schools cannot track or impose filtering software to ensure that students are not looking at inappropriate material, then how are they protecting themselves from a legal standpoint (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Another area of concern could be copyright laws; if teachers are allowing students to use and view copyrighted material, than the school could potentially get in trouble.  There are however, many benefits to using technology in the classroom, such as lowering the technology bill for the school and helping students develop skills in technology, skills that are necessary in the 21st century.  When letting students bring their own devices into the classroom, schools need to set up strict guidelines and procedures for when something goes wrong.  Schools also need to put practices in to play to protect themselves from getting sued.

Posted is the link to the article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/10/03/162148883/some-schools-actually-want-students-to-play-with-their-smartphones-in-class



Doyle, M. (2012, October 11). Supreme court takes on affirmative-action case. The Free Lance Star, p. A3.


Evans-Brown, S. (2012, October 3). Some schools actually want students to play with their smartphones in class. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/10/03/162148883/some-schools-actually-want-students-to-play-with-their-smartphones-in-class


Liptak, A. (2012, October 8). Race and college admissions, facing a new test by justices. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=1&ref=education&_r=0


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


14th amendment. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

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